11/24/2010 03:00 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Parentless Parents: Being Thankful on Thanksgiving

One of the most gratifying themes I uncovered researching and writing my forthcoming book "Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children" is just how healing Thanksgiving can be for those of us who have lost our parents.

Healing, you say? Aren't the holidays just a painful reminder that our moms and dads can't be with us to celebrate with our children? Yes, the holidays can certainly feel that way. But they don't have to. Even though both my parents are gone, and I have two young children who never got to know them, I've come to realize that Thanksgiving has the power to heal.

According the Parentless Parents Survey, a sweeping study I conducted to better understand moms and dads who are raising their kids without their own mothers and fathers, 70 percent of all respondents say that they appreciate their children more because they've lived through such loss. Additionally, more than half say that they are better parents because their parents have passed away, simply because they've gained the ability to be more understanding with their children. Loss builds perspective.

Perhaps most fitting for Thanksgiving, however, is this: A whopping 84 percent of mothers and fathers who took the Parentless Parents Survey indicate that having lived through the loss of their parents has made them appreciate the family they still have.

That's how I feel today: grateful that I had two terrific parents, and exceptionally thankful that I am married to man whom I consider my best friend and that we have two beautiful, healthy children.